Since Jose Aldo was named the Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight champion when the division was added to the organization in late 2010, every other belt that was in existence at the time has traded hands.
Aldo credits his ability to maintain focus on each opponent for his longevity as champion.
“I look at the champions and see them lose and take lessons from that,” he said at Red Rock Resort last week. “I’ve been champ for so long because I always take my next fight to be my biggest challenge. I never take it for granted. I always think it will be the hardest fight of my life. I’m pretty confident that’s the key.”
It shouldn’t be hard for Aldo to maintain focus on his next challenge. He was in town as part of a 10-day world tour promoting his UFC 189 main event bout against Conor McGregor at the MGM Grand on July 11.
McGregor spent much of the trip trying to agitate the champion.
“He doesn’t get to me. It’s impossible. The strongest part of me is my mind. I just laugh because you just have to laugh at the things he says,” Aldo said. “I really don’t care. It’s part of the game. I’m here to do my job.”
There may not be a better self-promoter in the game than McGregor. The 26-year-old Dublin native is 5-0 in the UFC, but has used his exciting style combined with an entertaining personality to quickly rise through the ranks.
“I don’t think he really deserves (a title shot),” Aldo said. “But it’s half about what he did and half what he says. He hasn’t faced anyone with a top-five ranking, but he has attracted all this media.
“So, OK. I’ll face him.”
Aldo does credit McGregor for bringing new life to the 145-pound division. He has already taken out the other top contenders at least once and beat No. 1 contender Chad Mendes twice, so it was good for some new blood to come along.
“It’s another challenge that I have and that’s a good thing,” Aldo said.
The fighters wrap up their media tour with a stop today in Dublin.
WEIDMAN TESTED — UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman says he got a visit from a sample collector at 6:50 a.m. on Monday morning.
Weidman, who is scheduled to defend his belt against Vitor Belfort on May 23 at MGM Grand, said the test was ordered by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
He was just fine with the disturbance.
“I have two kids and a pregnant wife so usually I would be pissed someone showing up like that but this is worth the inconvenience. They took blood and urine,” Weidman posted on Facebook. “First time being tested like that since I got in the sport. Really excited that they are starting to test fighters like this. Hope this really cleans up the sport!! #cleanathlete.”
UFC BACK IN ACTION — After a rare week off on the schedule, the UFC returns with a Saturday afternoon event in Fairfax, Va.
Mendes will fight Ricardo Lamas in a matchup of top featherweight contenders in the main event.
The main card, which airs live on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329) at 10 a.m., also includes the return of “The Ultimate Fighter: Season 18” winner Julianna Pena. She has not fought since winning the reality show title in November 2013 because of a severe knee injury.
Pena will face Milana Dudieva in a bantamweight bout.
The preliminary card, which features a lightweight bout between Alexander Yakovlev and Las Vegan Gray Maynard, also airs on Fox Sports 1 at 8 a.m.
WSOF RESULTS — Justin Gaethje retained the World Series of Fighting lightweight belt with a third-round knockout of Luis Palomino in the main event of a card in Phoenix on Saturday night.
Gaethje remained undefeated by dropping Palomino with a leg kick and following up with strikes on the ground until the fight was stopped.
Also on the card, Teddy Holder spoiled the WSOF debut of former UFC light heavyweight contender Thiago Silva with a knockout just 2:00 into the first round. It was Silva’s first fight since October 2013.
“It’s probably the highlight of my life right now,” Holder said after the victory. “I just want to thank God for everything. This happened last minute. I didn’t have no stress going on, I had to go ahead and fight one of the top light heavyweights in the world, so it’s good to come out with the win.”
Holder was a late replacement for Matt Hamill, who had to withdraw from the fight just hours before the event due to illness.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.